Dr Meera Varadharajan

Dr Meera Varadharajan

Research Fellow

PhD (Education) (2014)

Business School
Centre for Social Impact

Meera Varadharajan is a Research Fellow at the Centre for Social Impact (CSI) at University of New South Wales. Her PhD examined the experiences and contributions of career change professionals who transition to teaching in schools. Meera's doctoral and subsequent work on career changers to teaching has been recognised by leading teaching bodies, and she has received both external and internal research grants including from the NSW Department of Education. She has written several papers and has published a book on career changers.

Meera's current role at CSI involves leading and managing research projects and program evaluations across diverse social issues that impact society. Her works also involves designing program logic and facilitating Theory of Change workshops to help organisations build their social impact and outcomes measurement. Examples of policy driven work include research on:

  • Education: addressing teacher shortages in science and mathematics by attracting professionals from STEM backgrounds,
  • Housing: examining the housing and service delivery experiences of people living in social housing,
  • Health: examining the innovative responses by emergency services sector to meet health and infrastructure needs of vulnerable groups during COVID,
  • Cultural diversity: addressing the issue of cultural diversity in the philanthropic sector and its impact on recipients seeking funding. 

Examples of evaluations include impact of:

  • program to support youth through mentoring,
  • program to reduce recidivism among indigenous youth,
  • program to improve the well-being of carers during COVID. 

Meera has also published policy informed factsheets on teacher well-being and home learning and has led pre-election policy briefings on education.  As a qualitative researcher, she is passionate about connecting human stories and experiences in her work to drive purposeful social change in society.

Her civic contributions include being an Advisory board member for the UNSW Gonski Institute of Education.

  • Books |
    Varadharajan M, Career Change Teachers Bringing Work and Life Experience to the Classroom, Springer Nature
  • Book Chapters | 2017
    Varadharajan M; Schuck S, 2017, 'Can career changers be game changers? Policy, research and practice concerning career changers', in Teacher Education Policy and Practice: Evidence of Impact, Impact of Evidence, pp. 83 - 95, http://dx.doi.org/10.1007/978-981-10-4133-4_6
  • Journal articles | 2022
    Seivwright A; Kaleveld L; Meltzer A; Atkins M; Varadharajan M; Campbell P; Callis Z; Wilson E, 2022, 'Adaptation among aged care and disability service providers in response to the COVID-19 pandemic: Lessons for the future', Frontiers in Health Services, 2, http://dx.doi.org/10.3389/frhs.2022.1037256
    Journal articles | 2021
    Varadharajan M; Carter D; Buchanan J; Schuck S, 2021, 'Career change student teachers: lessons learnt from their in-school experiences', Australian Educational Researcher, 48, pp. 107 - 124, http://dx.doi.org/10.1007/s13384-020-00381-0
    Journal articles | 2020
    Varadharajan M; Buchanan J; Schuck S, 2020, 'Navigating and negotiating: Career changers in teacher education programmes', Asia-Pacific Journal of Teacher Education, 48, pp. 477 - 490, http://dx.doi.org/10.1080/1359866X.2019.1669136
    Journal articles | 2018
    Buchanan J; Varadharajan M, 2018, 'Poor understanding? Challenges to global development education', Cosmopolitan Civil Societies, 10, pp. 1 - 25, http://dx.doi.org/10.5130/ccs.v10i1.5756
    Journal articles | 2018
    Schuck S; Aubusson P; Buchanan J; Varadharajan M; Burke PF, 2018, 'The experiences of early career teachers: new initiatives and old problems', Professional Development in Education, 44, pp. 209 - 221, http://dx.doi.org/10.1080/19415257.2016.1274268
    Journal articles | 2018
    Varadharajan M; Buchanan J; Schuck S, 2018, 'Changing course: The paradox of the career change student-teacher', Professional Development in Education, 44, pp. 738 - 749, http://dx.doi.org/10.1080/19415257.2017.1423369
    Journal articles | 2016
    Buchanan J; Varadharajan M, 2016, ''Give Me Liberty, or Give Me.. Nice, New, Shiny Things': Global Development Aid Education in Australia', Perspectives on Global Development and Technology, 15, pp. 319 - 336, http://dx.doi.org/10.1163/15691497-12341392
    Journal articles | 2016
    Kirkup L; Varadharajan M; Braun M, 2016, 'A comparison of student and demonstrator perceptions of laboratory-based, inquiry-oriented learning experiences', International Journal of Innovation in Science and Mathematics Education, 24, pp. 1 - 13, https://openjournals.library.sydney.edu.au/CAL/article/view/9034
  • Reports | 2023
    Parker R; Yao YS; Varadharajan M; Noone J, 2023, Community Strengthening Evidence Review, NSW Department of Communities and Justice, https://evidenceportal.dcj.nsw.gov.au/documents/community-strengthening-evidence-review/D22_3137528__CSI_Evidence_Review_Report_-_FINAL.pdf
    Reports | 2022
    Varadharajan M; Beuna P; Noone J; Weier M; Brown G, 2022, Amplify Insights: Education Inequity. Part Two: Levers of Change, Centre for Social Impact, UNSW Sydney, Sydney, https://www.csi.edu.au/research/amplify-insights-education-inequity/
    Reports | 2022
    Varadharajan M; Buchanan J, 2022, Retraining and retaining sTEM professionals: what works to address teacher shortages. A literature review report prepared for NSW Department of Education, Centre for Social Impact, UNSW Sydney, Sydney
    Reports | 2021
    Varadharajan M; Beuna P; Muir K; Moore T; Harris D; Barker B; Dakin P; Lowe K; Smith C; Baker S; Piccoli A, 2021, Amplify Insights: Education Inequity. Part One: Drivers of Inequity, Centre for Social Impact, UNSW Sydney, Sydney, https://www.csi.edu.au/research/amplify-insights-education-inequity/
    Reports | 2021
    Weier M; Writer T; Ahearn E; Buena P; Barnes E; Varadharajan M, 2021, GO Foundation Scholarship Assessment Process Review and Recommendations, Centre for Social Impact, UNSW, Sydney, NSW
    Reports | 2020
    Flanagan K; Levin I; Tually S; Varadharajan M; Verdouw J; Faulkner D; Meltzer A; Vreugdenhil A, 2020, Understanding the experience of social housing pathways, 324, http://dx.doi.org/10.18408/ahuri-4118301, http://www.ahuri.edu.au/research/final-reports/324
    Reports | 2020
    Varadharajan M; Meltzer A; Saunders I; Weier M, 2020, Evaluation of the Youth Frontiers mentoring program
    Reports | 2020
    Varadharajan M; Weier M; Saunders I; Meltzer A, 2020, Evaluation of the Youth Frontiers Mentoring Program, Centre for Social Impact, UNSW, Sydney, NSW
    Theses / Dissertations | 2014
    Varadharajan M, 2014, Understanding the lived experiences of second career beginning teachers, http://hdl.handle.net/10453/29255

Winner: UNSW Business School ‘Social Engagement: UN Principles of Responsible Management Education (PRME) Staff Award (2022)

Winner: Teachers Guild of NSW Research Award for PhD (2010)